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Neighborhood Spotlight: Alki

Small town vibes in the big city

Madison Miller

Published on: August 23, 2023

People dancing and wearing headphones at Alki beach in West Seattle
Silent Disco at the beach

While it’s an often overlooked part of Seattle, West Seattle offers one of the region’s most sought-after beaches on Puget Sound. The Alki Beach neighborhood is more than just a beach town. Yes, the 2-and-a-half-mile-long sandy beach is home to volleyball players, sunbathers and beachcombers, but it’s also home to fun and whimsical community gems you just can’t find anywhere else.

Only the locals know …

If you head toward the beach and see a group of people wearing Bluetooth headphones and dancing with joy, you’ve likely stumbled on a silent disco. Silent discos are a chance to meet folks and listen to good music. The best part? It’s totally free and your kids will love it.

"Alki beach"
View of Seattle from Alki Beach in West Seattle

According to the neighbors …

“For a fun activity, try taking the Water Taxi from downtown to Alki and back. It’s super easy, like going to an island with no car and no hassle. There’s also a hidden gem across the street from the ferry — Unwind Cafe, which serves the best smoothies in Seattle, in my opinion. Kids can bring scooters, as it’s a flat and safe area,” says Joel Gamoran, a local chef, father and frequent Alki visitor.

"Kids eating ice crease and smiling on a purple bench"
Photo by Rory Graves

Get your play on

Make the most of your day on Alki by hitting the beach and a few special spots along the way. Alki Playground, better known as “whale tail park,” is a favorite among kids. With incredible slides, a spacious field and a sandbox for the little ones, it offers plenty of fun. West Seattle Arcade, located right on the main drag, opened recently. It offers a wide variety of video games and pinball machines for the whole family.

Alki Beach Park is this nabe’s main attraction, which means it is usually crowded. Head over to Constellation Park to get the same beautiful beach experience without the crowds. The park also is a great place to join the Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program and see what critters you can find at low tide. While you’re at the beach, help the environment by picking up trash and debris as part of the Block Drop cleanup program. One of the city’s hidden gems, Jack Block Park, is also worth checking out. The park features a walking path that passes by a play area and a walkable pier before reaching the park’s observation tower.

When you’re ready to seek a reprieve from the beach and sun, head to the Log House Museum to inspect interesting West Seattle artifacts and learn more about the area’s history. And for Alki first-timers, no trip is complete without a visit to the Alki Point Lighthouse. Tours run most Sunday afternoons, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

"Sandwich from Unwind Cafe"
Photo courtesty of Unwind Cafe

Eats + treats

Harry’s Beach House is a fantastic place for families. Along with delicious food for grown-ups, it provides crayons, books and other toys to keep kids entertained. The outdoor seating across the street from the beach is a big bonus.

Pepperdock Restaurant has some of the best ice cream in town. It recently underwent a renovation, so check out the new space and grab a scoop before summer is over.

For fresh and authentic bites, Cactus Southwest Kitchen + Bar is an excellent spot, made more so by a delicious and nutritious kids’ menu that will appeal to even the pickiest of eaters.

Locust Cider & Brewing Co. is a family-friendly taproom offering retro video games, a kids’ corner and a robust menu for kids — all to create a family-friendly atmosphere that’s rounded out with an amazing view of Alki Beach and the Seattle skyline.

Grab a bite and a cup of joe to go at Ampersand Cafe’s walk-up window. The freshly baked muffins, buttery biscuits, scones and baguettes mustn’t be missed.

"Alki beach Bike"
Photo courtesy of Wheel Fun Rentals

What to bring

If you can ride it, you can roll with it on Alki. Bike, scoot, board, skate or otherwise propel yourself along the paved sidewalk that stretches for miles. Roll in style by checking out Wheel Fun Rentals, which features a large selection of specialty cycles, electric bikes, bicycles and tandem cycles.

Don’t forget to bring all the outdoor and beach essentials: swimsuits, sandals or water shoes, towels, sand pails and shovels, and sunscreen. ParentMap’s summer safety checklist for kids can help with the planning.

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